Monday, August 30, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for September 5, 2021 (Pentecost 15/Trinity 14/Proper 18/Ordinary 23 - B)

 Texts: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23; Psalm 125; James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17; Mark 7:24-37

Call to Worship
What good is it if we say we love all people,
but give special treatment to a few?
God calls us to love others as deeply
as we love ourselves, with no strings attached.

What good is it if we say we want
God to show mercy towards us,
but are quick to judge others?
God calls us to forgive our sisters and brothers,
to let mercy triumph over judgment.
What good is it if we say we trust God in every moment,
but live guided by our fears?
We will speak and act as those who trust God to come
and live in our fearful hearts.

Prayer of the Day

God surrounded by glory:
you notice the people we walk past,
      and journey with them,
     wherever they are going.
You speak out for the voiceless,
      and open our ears to their cries.

Jesus, Healer of the hopeless,
Converser with the outsider:
in you,
      faith and works skip hand in hand
      down the streets of the kingdom.
In you,
      the have-a-lots and the have-nothings
      find themselves sitting side by side
      at your Table,
           passing grace to one another.
In you,
      those with good names,
      and those with no names,
           are called by one name:

Compassion's Spirit:
sow justice in our hearts,
      so the poor might find in us a friend;
sow peace in our spirits,
     so the angry might find in us
           a sea of gentleness;
sow generosity in our hands,
      so the hungry might find in us
           their daily bread.

God in Community, Holy in One,
surround us in these moments
and in all the ones to come,
with your grace and love,
as we pray together the disciples' prayer,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

We find it a lot easier to play favorites, rather than treating everyone equally. We find it simpler to classify others as 'them,' instead of discovering what makes them beloved in God's eyes. We cling to fear, when we could grasp hold of God's enduring love. Let us confess together all we have done, and not done, which brings hurt to others, and harm to ourselves. Join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
      How glibly we say we trust you, Holy One, and how quickly our fears silence our words.  We find you at the side of the poor, while we cozy up to the rich and famous. You stand behind the counter serving the hungry at the soup kitchen, while we are stocking our freezers and pantries till they overflow. We look down at those whose hands are dirty, but your hand of mercy pulls them into your embracing love.
      Forgive us, O Lord, and do good to us when we have trouble doing good for others.  Surround us with your love; surround us with your grace; surround us with your peace; surround us with the Spirit of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Be strong, do not fear! God comes, to fill your parched souls with living water, to open your eyes to the grace which is yours.
God comes, for no other reason than to save us. This is indeed good news.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May we who are rich with your blessings, share them in common with those who have so little.  May our gifts be used to sow justice, to feed the hungry, and to bring relief to those afflicted in so many ways.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
My beloved sisters and brothers, may the Lord be with you.
And also with you.
My beloved brothers and sisters, lift up your hearts.
Our hearts are offered to our God.
My beloved sisters and brothers, let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Thanksgiving is in our hearts, and praise is on our lips.

Our hearts do handsprings,
and our joy echoes off the mountains,
Creator of all:
      rich and poor, man and woman,
      child and grandparent, gnat and galaxy.
Created in your image,
      we ridicule others who look different from us;
our lungs filled with the Spirit's breath,
      we laugh at those who are not as good
           as we imagine we are.
But even when we turn our backs on you,
your love is steadfast and your grace is abundant.

And so, with all your people,
those on earth and those around your throne,
those beside us in this moment
and those with you throughout eternity,
we join in everlasting song:

Holy, holy, holy, God who surrounds creation with your grace!
Heaven and earth sing to the One who made them all.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who shares bread with the poor.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, and blessed is Jesus,
your Son, our Brother, our Savior.
Jesus has done everything well:
eating and drinking with sinners,
      he taught us that there is a place
           at the Table for each and every one of us;
responding to the cries of the poor,
      he shows us we are all equal in God's heart;
clearing the eyes of the blind
and opening the ears of the deaf,
inviting children to sit on his lap
and conversing with the outsiders of his day,
      he models the radical inclusiveness
          of your kingdom.

As we remember all you did in and through him -
his words, his touch, his laughter, his silence,
his pain, his loneliness, his death, his resurrection -
we offer ourselves in trust and hope,
in service and sacrifice,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died, to sow life;
Christ has risen, to sow grace;
Christ will return, to sow justice for all.

May the Spirit of the Risen Lord
be poured out on us in this place,
and on the gifts of the bread and the cup.
As we take the broken loaf, we feast,
not on the crumbs which fall from the Table,
but on the grace which makes us whole;
on the hope which makes us one;
on the love which calls us to serve:
      to welcome the immigrants to our neighborhood,
      to teach the little child to read,
      to affirm the awkward adolescent,
      to share our bread and all we have
           with those in need,
until that day when Christ returns
and all shall feast at his banquet in heaven.
Through your Son, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit in your holy church,
all honor and glory are yours,
Great God, our hope, our trust, our redemption,
now and forever. Amen.

God sends us forth to love all people, no strings attached.
We will share grace and hope with everyone.
Jesus sends us forth to forgive our sisters and brothers.
We will offer mercy, not judgment, to those around us.
The Spirit sends us forth to trust God in every moment.
We will live in faith, not in fear, sharing our hearts with all we meet.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Alternate texts liturgy for September 5, 2021 (Pentecost 15/Trinity 14/Proper 18/Ordinary 23 - B)

 Texts:  Isaiah 35:4-9a; Psalm 146; James 2:7-10 (10-13) 14-17; Mark 7:24-37

Call to Worship
Here, in this place, we will not be afraid to sing the good news.
We will praise our God, now and always.
Here, with this people, we will not fear in living the good news.
We will walk with Jesus, as he comes with justice in his hands.
Here, in these moments, we will not be scared to tell the good news.
We will be open to all the Holy Spirit is doing in our midst.

Prayer of the Day
On your holy road,
Heart of faithfulness,
those blinded by fear
   will see hope;
those deafened by doubt’s cries
   will hear grace;
those who have only crumbs
   will be filled with love.

On your holy road,
Heart of justice,
bullies will become mentors
   for those they tormented;
those who can’t find the right words
   will compose songs of wonder;
those who trip over their worries
   will dance in the streets.

On your holy road,
Heart of grace,
those convinced of their ways
   will learn to change their minds;
those whose hearts are barren deserts
   will bloom with bouquets of laughter;
those who have buried faith under a mound of words
   will see it resurrected in compassion for others.

We long to journey on your holy road,
God in Community, Hearts united,
as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
So many choices, and we make the wrong ones; so many paths to take, and we go down the wrong ones; so much good we could do, and all we do is offer empty words.  Let us bring our lives and hearts to our God, who is our help and hope, in this and every moment.  Let us pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We say that we are good listeners, God of holy ways, but we turn stopped up ears to the vulnerable around us.  We say that we live as your people, but too often, put ourselves ahead of the people we love.  We say that we are people of faith, but then try to overwhelm people with words, rather than acts of service.
   We say so much, God of compassion, that we cannot hear you calling us to faithful living.  Have mercy on us and send us out to offer kindness to the lonely.  Have mercy on us and send us to be generous with the love you offer.  Have mercy on us, so we might be open to all the chances we will have to follow, and to serve alongside our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Whisper it.  Say it.  Shout it.  Sing it!  Our God comes with justice, not judgment; with hope, not a heavy hand; with grace, not grudges.  This is the good news for us.
We will not be scared to tell anyone, and everyone, of our God who overflows with mercy, who sets us free, who watches over us.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May our gifts not be the crumbs of our lives, but justice for those overlooked by the world; be healing for those broken by pain and grief; be grace for those who long to be listened to and welcomed.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of holy ways be with you.
May God be with you as well.
Here we may come, to be fed by grace and hope.
Here we offer our hollow hearts to our God.
We will rejoice and praise God every chance we get.
We will sing to our God in every moment of our lives.

You came, God of Imagination,
into the emptiness of chaos,
your arms laden with the gifts of creation:
   sweet, juicy tomatoes on vines;
   honey dripping from combs in trees;
   cool, clear water rushing over rocks.
These wonders, and so much more,
were given to those you loved enough
to form in your own image, so we might
feast upon your goodness and bounty,
   but we scrambled around under death’s tables,
   seeking to scoop up the crumbs of temptation.
Prophets came over and over and over,
their words, their lives, their hearts
open calls for us to return to your side,
   but we turned hard hearts 
   and fear-plugged ears to them.
Then, because you are our help,
you sent your precious Hope to us,
the One who would speak as you.

With those who speak plainly,
with those who have trouble changing their minds,
we life our songs of thanksgiving to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, our God, now and always.
All creation praises you every day, in every moment.  
Hosanna in the highest!  

Blessed is the One opens us to your grace. 
Hosanna in the highest!

In the baby born into poverty,
you came, God of the vulnerable,
   to challenge the powerful and profane.
In the young boy playing in the fields,
you came, God of the faithful,
   to know our loneliness, as well as our joy.
In the teacher who wove stories of wonder,
you came, God of justice,
   to remind us that mercy triumphs over judgment,
   that inclusiveness welcomes every outsider.
In the One broken on the cross,
you came, God of life,
   to break the power of sin once and for all,
   to set us free from our fear of death.

As we remember the One who was willing to listen,
as prepare to be fed by the One who was willing to learn,
may we not be afraid to speak of that mystery we call faith:

Jesus died, so we might find our hope in you;
Jesus was raised, so we might find our help in you;
Jesus will come, so we might find our life with you.

In these moments, and in this place,
you come, God of the feast,
pouring out your Spirit on the bread and the cup 
and your family gathered around the Table.  
Though we would sweep out the crumbs of the broken bread, 
you gather them up 
   to feed the most vulnerable with life, 
   to bring healing to the broken, 
  to offer community to the lonely.  
Though we would toss out the dregs of the cup, 
you would pass this grace
   to the refugee so they might find a welcome, 
   to the transgendered so they would know they are loved, 
   to the aged so they are not forgotten.

And when you have set us free from time’s prison,
you gather us around the feast of heaven where,
with our sisters and brothers, we will sing
your praises, now and always,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now, let us go with grace in our hearts.
We will not be afraid to proclaim the good news.
Now, let us go with justice in our hearts, in our hands.
We will not shrink from speaking to those in power
to set the most vulnerable free from all that limits them.
Now, let us go with hope in our hearts, in our hands, on our lips.
We will join the Spirit in singing the good news to our world.

© 2018 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, August 23, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for August 29, 2021 (Pentecost 14/Trinity 13/Proper 17/Ordinary 22 - B)

 Texts Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Call to Worship
Here, our Beloved speaks to us;
the voice of our Beloved sounds in our hearts:
calling us to generous acts, to share the gifts we have been given.
Now, our Beloved speaks to us;
the voice of our Beloved sounds in our land:
calling us to generous acts, to open our hearts to all in need.
In every place, in every moment, our Beloved speaks to us;
the voice of our Beloved sounds in all creation:
calling us to generous acts, to stand with God's people:
the least, the lost, the little, the last.

Prayer of the Day
Light-giving God:
our praises spring up
like flowers on a spring day;
our songs of joy are lifted to you;
our hearts overflow with
your kindness and generosity.

Jesus, Beloved Child:
you look through the lattice of the world
at our lives, our hearts, our souls.
You speak to us with tenderness and strength,
calling us to come away from rigid legalism
to lives of grace and hope.

Truth-speaking Spirit:
we look in a mirror
and see God's child;
we walk away
and forget whose we are.
Move within us and reshape us
into God's beloved children,
living within that circle of blessing
called the kingdom.

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray together,
as Jesus taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Do we honor God only with our lips, while keeping our hearts from the Holy One?  Do we deceive ourselves, thinking we are religious rather than living faithful lives?  Let us confess to God our sin, trusting in the One who seeks to make us whole.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Holy One of leaders and little children, we hear your words every day, but rarely live them out.  Our anger roars like a flooded creek, but our forgiveness drips like a rusty faucet.  Our impetuous tongues rush to judgment, while our words of hope sound like a sluggish soundtrack.  We listen with impatient ears to the cries of the poor.
   Father of Lights, may your mercy fall on us like a summer shower on parched grass; may your hope overflow our hearts; may your Beloved Child, Jesus Christ, speak to us and call us to life.

Silence is kept 

Assurance of Pardon
Listen and understand - the voice of the Beloved speaks to us, implanting the word of hope, the word of grace, and the word of forgiveness into our hearts.
We listen and understand.  Every gift comes from God, especially the gifts of mercy and love.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/offering
Let us be slow in our yearning to hang on to our blessings, and quick to share them with the hungry, the lonely, the forgotten, and the hurting of our world, that our gifts might become a kind of first fruits for those whose lives are so empty.  This we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Beloved, may God be with you!
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts, Beloved of God.
We lift them to the One who loves us beyond all expectations.
God's Beloved, let us offer our thanks and praise to the Lord our God.
Our voices unite in joy and thanks to the One who brings us hope and healing.

Our hearts overflow with praise and thanksgiving,
God, our God!
Your Beloved's voice spoke to chaos,
calling forth the flowers of grace
which bloom in our hearts.
Because you love righteousness,
you would anoint us
with the oil of joy
and clothe us in the robes
of mercy and goodness.
But we break your heart by embracing
the very wickedness you hate,
staining our lives with sin and death.
Still, you love us and seek us out,
for in Christ your grace has defeated sin
and the Risen Lord has opened the way
to life in your kingdom

So, we lift our voices in joy and hope,
singing with the choirs of angels in heaven,
and with all the faithful of every place and time,
singing of your glory forever

Holy, holy, holy are you, Lover of righteousness
All creation overflows with praise for you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is your Beloved who anoints us with unexpected grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Look, he comes!
Your Beloved Child,
Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior, our Companion,
the joy of your Heart.
Gazing into our souls,
he sees our emptiness
and fills us with your grace;
listening to our pain,
he is quick to speak
healing and hope to us;
the perfect gift of life,
he declares that sin is past,
death is over and gone,
and resurrection blossoms
in our hearts forever.

As you have called him Beloved at his baptism,
and as you raised him from death to give us life,
so we give ourselves to live for him in grateful praise and service:

Christ was born, hearing your morning song.
Christ died, doing your will even in the moments of his despair.
Christ was raised, in fulfillment of your own purpose.
Christ will come, the first fruits of our resurrection.
Generous God, pour out your Holy Spirit
upon those who gather around your Table,
and upon the gifts of the Bread and Cup.
As they are the body of your Servant
and the Spirit of your compassion,
may we become the healing and hope
the world longs for in our time.
As you touch our lips with your life,
may we be quick to speak of justice;
as you pour grace into our hearts,
may we be the doers of your Word,
those whose hands are stained
by generous acts of kindness:
feeding the hungry,
clothing the naked,
lifting the fallen to their feet,
comforting all who are broken.

Then, when your Spirit
unites us at your Table in heaven,
as we clasp hands with all your beloved,
we will sing your glory for all eternity:
God in Community, Holy in One.

Arise, and let us go forth as God's people.
Look!  God sends us forth with songs of love on our lips.
Arise, and let us go forth to serve beside Jesus.
Look!  He stands, waiting for us to help tear down the barriers of injustice.
Arise, and let us go forth to join the generous Spirit.
Look! We will be doers as well as givers with our gifts.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Monday, August 16, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for August 22, 2021 (Pentecost 13/Trinity 12/Proper 16/Ordinary 21 - B)

 exts: 1 Kings 8: (1, 6, 10-11, 22-30), 41-43; Psalm 84; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 6:56-69

 Call to Worship
Jesus said: 'I am the Bread of Life . . .
whoever eats this Bread will always live.'
This is a tough teaching, too tough to swallow.
Jesus said: 'Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God
like a child shall not enter it.'
This is a tough teaching, too tough to hear.
Jesus said to all he met: 'Follow me.'
We have accepted Jesus, and seek to be faithful,
no matter how tough it is to follow him.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God,
Home of all who seek you:
may you find in our hearts paths to walk,
wandering with us through dark valleys,
dipping us in pools of living water,
lifting our faces to the grace
falling softly upon us.

Loving Lord,
Speaker of tough words:
we would wish for an easy life
as we follow you to our Home.
Help us to see that when we mop floors,
we find our meaning;
when we hammer nails,
we discover our hope;
when we embrace the sick,
we touch our healing.

Spirit of Strength,
Bearer of our prayers,
we would ask for:
the strength
to say 'yes'
when 'no' is on our lips;
the wisdom
to welcome all
into our hearts;
the longing
to be with you

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray together,
as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
If it was easy to follow Jesus, we would not need to ask for forgiveness. But it is tough - tough to say 'yes,' tough to be graceful, tough to be loving. Yet whatever we do, God loves us enough to forgive us and to feed us with the Bread of Life. Let us pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     God, our sun and shield: we may long to be in your house, but our deeds show how tough it is for us to live there. Called to follow, we search for paths to take us back to our old ways; given the words of eternal life, we weakly proclaim the gospel to others; offered the path of salvation to walk upon, we stumble down the rocky roads of our world.
     Forgive us, Guardian of our lives. Strengthen us with your Spirit, so we may serve your people with all that brings them life. Let your Word, Jesus Christ, the One we have come to believe and know is our Lord and Savior, be confirmed in us in every word, every deed, every thought, every moment in the days to come.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Today, receive the Bread of Life;
today, hear the words of eternal hope;
today, trust in the One who hears your prayers,
and showers grace and forgiveness upon you.
Today, we are set free to serve God's people, and to sing God's praises. Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Take our gifts, Gracious God, and use them to put shoes on blistered feet, to put garments of grace around the hopeless, to touch hurting bodies with healing hands, and to share the gospel with everyone we meet.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Lord, our Host, be with you!
And also with you!
Blessed are those whose hearts know the way to the kingdom.
Our hearts are filled with life itself
as we seek to follow Jesus.
Blessed are those who sing praises to God.
Trusting in the One who calls us here,
we sing our joy and love to God.

Early morning rains created pools
filled with the sweet waters of life
on that day of wonder and goodness
we call creation, God of our joy.
You shaped a garden
here we might always find you,
you offered hope to all who trusted you.
But we found your words too hard,
and the promises of sin too easy,
your road to peace was too long,
and death's path was so short.
Through the ambassadors of your word
you spoke, that we might know your name
and return to your heart.
But we were offended by their speech,
and went from sin to sin.
So, you sent Jesus to us,
the bread come down from heaven
to lead us back to you.

So, with those who have always known your name,
and those who have heard it for the first time,
we join our voices in praise and song:

Holy, holy, holy are you, our God and our Creator.
Heaven and highest heaven cannot contain you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes with words of eternal life.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of steadfast love,
and blessed is Jesus, the Holy One of God.
Trusting your heart,
he poured out his love for us
in every miracle, in every conversation.
Trusting your words,
he told us of lost children welcomed
with open arms,
of outsiders who live out your grace.
Trusting you, Keeper of the covenant,
he would not live in the tents of evil,
but lived in your hope and peace.
Trusting your grace,
he journeyed to the cross
to defeat the power of death,
to be raised to new life,
so you might look upon the faces
of your beloved children.

As we gather to remember his life and death,
as we celebrate the wonder of the resurrection,
we make known the mystery of the gospel:

Christ died, so we might have peace;
Christ is risen, so we might live forever;
Christ will come again, so we may live
     in God's house for all eternity.

How lovely is your Table of grace, God of mercy,
the simple gifts of the bread and cup
transformed by your love,
your Spirit of joy and hope filling
your people who come to your feast.
The bread of heaven feeds us with life,
so we might go from person to person,
bringing relief where there is pain,
bringing hope where there is despair.
The cup of grace is filled
with deep pools of your hope,
so we might go to all the places
of worry, anger, and discord,
to share your peace for all people.

And when that day with you
which will never end finally begins,
when we are gathered with our sisters
and brothers from every time and place,
we will sing for joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Let us go now, to share God's strength.
We will do so by embracing the weakness of others.
Let us go now, to be as alert as Jesus.
We will do so by noticing the brokenness all around us.
Let us go now, to share the life of the Spirit.
We will do so by receiving the bread of life from the poor.

(c) Thom M. Shuman